Official: Indonesia Favors Pertamina to Operate Mahakam Block After 2017


JAKARTA, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Indonesia's state energy firm Pertamina is likely to become the operator and majority shareholder of the offshore Mahakam oil and gas block after the contract of current operator Total E&P Indonesie expires in 2017, an energy ministry official said on Friday.

Indonesia is one of the world's largest liquefied natural gas exporters, but with domestic output slipping and local demand growing, the country has begun consuming more of its natural gas and is seeking overseas supplies.

Total's contract to operate the Mahakam block is one of numerous oil and gas contracts due to expire under uncertain terms, a stumbling block that the new government of Southeast Asia's largest economy has promised to address quickly.

"Mahakam block must be given priority to Pertamina and Pertamina must be the operator," Energy Ministry Performance Supervision Unit chief Widhyawan Prawiraatmadja told reporters. "The majority participating interest must be Pertamina."

A spokesman at France's Total was unable for immediate comment on Friday. A final decison on the Mahakam block is expected to be made by Energy Minister Sudirman Said within three months, the official said.

(Reporting by Wilda Asmarini; Writing by Michael Taylor; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)


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